The Amalfi Coast, a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1997, is one of Italy's most scenic stretches of shoreline and one of the top places to visit in southern Italy. Set on the Tyrrhenian Sea south of Naples, the coast is known for its picturesque towns perched on cliffs over the sea, its beaches, and its long-standing cache as a playground for the rich and famous.
Because there's so much to see and do on the Amalfi Coast and there are many good places to stay, the towns on the peninsula make a great base for spending at least a few days or even a week or longer.
Best Time to Visit the Amalfi Coast
The secret is out—way out—about the Amalfi Coast, meaning that the best months to visit, weather-wise are also the months when everyone else wants to visit. You'll find the warmest air and sea temperatures and the biggest crowds from mid-June to the end of August. The shoulder season of April-May is great for hiking and sightseeing, though sea waters will be too cold for swimming. September to October is the best time to visit, when the weather is still fine for swimming and sunning, but the crowds have died down. From November to March, many restaurants and businesses close for the season—but it's a perfect time to visit if you want solitude instead of a suntan.
Italian is the first language along the Amalfi Coast. You'll find that most hotel, restaurant, and shop employees speak some English. However, for the sake of politeness, it's helpful to learn at least a few phrases in Italian.
The euro (€) is the official currency of Italy, and no other currency is accepted. Hotels, most restaurants and shops accept credit cards, though some smaller businesses may not. Note: that while MasterCard and Visa are widely accepted, American Express is not as common in Italy (or Europe for that matter).
The Amalfi Coast road is one of the most famous scenic drives in the world and connects the main towns along the coast. Many visitors opt to rent a car and drive this road. However, given the intense summer traffic, hairpin curves and the sudden drop-offs from the side of the road, we recommend that if you do choose to drive the coastal road that you do so in the off-season. Alternatives for getting between towns include water taxis or ferries, hiring a private driver (or taking advantage of your hotel's courtesy shuttle), or using the slow-moving municipal buses that ply the coast road.
To capture great photos of the towns and beaches of the Amalfi Coast, wake up early. You'll find sparsely populated piazzas with merchants just starting to set up shop for the day, deserted beaches and quiet streets. Also, for summer hiking, it pays to get a very early start—both to avoid the high-season crowds and the hottest part of the day.
Read more about the Best Time to Visit the Amalfi Coast.
Things to Do
Travelers come to the Amalfi Coast for its perfect combination of diversions, including boating and beach-going, shopping, dining out, hiking, and sightseeing in its many interesting towns and historic sites. While you're here, you should definitely plan to take a scenic boat ride, even if it's just a ferry from one town to another. Seeing the coast from the water, with its dramatic cliffs, hidden beaches, and pastel-colored towns climbing up the hillsides is a real treat.
Also plan to visit at least a small handful of the beautiful towns along the Amalfi Coast, each with its own distinct history and character:
- Positano made the transition from sleepy fishing village into one of Italy's most popular resort towns. Built into the steep seaside slope, it offers amazing views, especially if you walk or take the bus to the top of the town.
- Amalfitown was the first Sea Republic of Italy, later joined by Pisa, Venice, and Genova. Amalfi is now a peaceful resort town with great views. Students of history may want to be based here—Amalfi was an important port in southern Italy through the 12th century and its prominence is reflected in its architecture.
- Although it's not as glitzy as Positano, Ravello's position in the hills above the town of Amalfi and the sea makes it a great place for views. TheRavello Concert Societyholds performances from April through October, most of them atVilla Rufolo.
- An ancient fishing village turned into a prestigious seaside resort, Praiano is more spread out than the other villages, stretching along the sea. Be sure to visit the church dedicated to Saint Luke, theParrocchiadi San Luca Evangelista, containing actual historic relics of the saint.
For more information about what to see and do on the Amalfi Coast, check out the following TripSavvy articles:
- 5 Must-See Towns on Italy's Amalfi Coast
- The Best Dishes to Try on Itay's Amalfi Coast
- The Best Road Trip Sights on the Amalfi Coast
What to Eat and Drink
Given its seaside location, local specialties along the Amalfi Coast rely heavily on fresh fish and seafood, which may be served in a cold salad, fried, sauteed, or as a sauce for pasta. Fresh clams (vongole), octopus (polpo), and various forms of shrimp (gamberi, gamberoni, scampi) are often the stars of pasta dishes. Note that in most restaurants in Italy, shrimp and seafood are served in their whole form—heads, tails, legs, and tentacles—and it's up to you to clean them. Fresh fish from the Tyrrhenian Sea, such as persico(perch) andspigola(sea bass) are also often served whole, though if you ask, your server will usually be willing to debone the fish and do away with the head. Read more about eating fish in Italy.
Like all regions of Italy, the Amalfi Coast produces locally-made wines, so you should be sure to try some during your stay. Among white varieties, Falanghina is an easy table wine. The Costa d’Amalfi DOC label will show up on high-quality whites and reds from grapes grown near Furore, Ravello, and Tramonti.You can't visit the Amalfi Coast without sampling some limoncello. The strong, sweet lemon liqueur is made on the Amalfi Coast and practically ubiquitous with the region. It's most popular as an after-dinner digestivo (digestif). Delizie al limone, a sponge cake made with limoncello, is one of the most famous desserts along the coast.
Where to Stay
In high season, especially in July and August, accommodations along the Amalfi Coast may be hard to come by and bargains, harder still. That said, if you reserve months in advance—or even the year before, for summer trips—you can secure decent rates in well-located hotels, resorts or vacation rentals. If you're without a car, it makes sense to stay in one of the towns along the Amalfi Coast (see Things to Do, above), so that you can walk to restaurants, shops, and tourist sites. If you have a car or are content to use the frequent public buses that pass by, you can stay outside of a main town—many of the nicer resort hotels are a few kilometers away from the nearest town. Most upper-end hotels outside of town centers have courtesy shuttles that will take you into town or to the nearest beach.
Some of our favorite hotels along the Amalfi Coast include:
- A short distance from Amalfi town, Hotel Santa Caterina is a historic 5-star property built into the cliffs, with stunning views of the coast, a seafront pool and sea swimming, plus kayaking area.
- With a location right in Positano, regal Le Sirenuse is an in-town haven with a pool and several al fresco restaurants and bars.
- Near Amalfi town center, cozy Hotel Il Nido (the nest) is a low-key option where all rooms have sea views.
- A 10-minute walk from downtown Ravello, inland Hotel Parsifal occupies a former convent from the 1200s, with spectacular views of the coast from a position high above the sea.
- In relaxed Maiori, Reginna Palace Hotel offers an in-town location, a private beach, and pool, plus a selection of self-catering apartments.
For more top picks, check our list of the Best Amalfi Coast Hotels.
Most travelers arrive to the Amalfi Coast by way of Rome or Naples. If you're traveling by train, you'll arrive in either Naples Centrale station, then transfer to the local Circumvesuviana train that stops in Pompeii before continuing to Sorrento, on the northern side of the coast. From there, you can either rent a car, take a ferry, hire a private driver, or take one of several daily buses to reach the small towns of the Amalfi Coast. An alternative is to take the train to Salerno, from where you can travel northwards to towns along the coast using buses, ferries, private drivers or a rental car.
If you've picked up a rental car elsewhere in Italy, we advise that you avoid driving in central Rome or Naples and instead skirt these areas to reach Sorrento and points southward on the Amalfi Coast. Make sure your Amalfi Coast hotels have parking and if necessary, reserve a spot for the duration of your stay.
If you're flying, the closest airports are Rome and Naples. Most flights from the US arrive in Rome's Fiumicino Airport, the largest in Italy.
For more on transportation, see our guide on how to get from Rome or Naples to Sorrento and the Amalfi Coast.
While the Amalfi Coast is no place for vacation bargains in high season, there are a few ways to save money throughout the year:
- Take the bus. Save on transportation costs by using the municipal buses that run up and down the coast all day long. A single ride costs around €2, while all-day passes with unlimited rides are €8.
- Choose a non-waterfront hotel. The small towns of the Amalfi Coast are almost all built on, or near, the water. But you can save money by skipping the more expensive waterfront hotels and opting for one without sea views. The beach is always a short walk away.
- Visit in the off-season. If you can bear the idea of not going to the beach, or at least not going swimming during your Amalfi Coast vacation, you'll save a significant amount of money by visiting in the spring or fall shoulder seasons. Prices drop, towns quiet down, and you may feel like you have the entire coast to yourself.
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United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization. "Costiera Amalfitana."
Italian National Tourist Board. "More Information."